The folks who live in Historic Cannon’s Addition refuse to let urban decay destroy their corner of southwest Spokane.
In recent years, they’ve banded together and worked through bureaucratic red tape to bring new life to one of the city’s oldest residential areas.
“We’ve had a lot of successes as a neighborhood,” said Wayne Krafft, chair of the Cannon’s Addition steering committee.
“It really helps when people get involved in what’s going on in their neighborhood,” he said.
A new COPS Shop is about to open at Ninth and Monroe. A neighborhood park at the west end of 14th Avenue is under construction. Historically valuable homes are being listed on local, state and national registers.
Those are but a few of the accomplishments of a neighborhood that is defying its age and becoming a leader in the Spokane’s emerging neighborhood movement.
As neighborhoods go, Historic Cannon’s Addition is relatively small.
It is bounded on the north by Interstate 90, on the east by Cedar Street, on the south by 14th Avenue and on the west by the bluff above Latah Creek.
The inhabitants are diverse. Young parents raise children next to retirees. Low-income apartment dwellers sleep a few doors away from middle-income professionals.
The neighborhood was originally platted in 1883 by Anthony McCue Cannon, who built a mansion on Third Avenue at the north end of the addition. His mansion is gone, but Cannon’s pioneer influence in Spokane survives. Two parks, a street and the neighborhood bear his name.
Many of the lots at the south end of of Cannon’s Addition remained vacant until the early 1900s, when a burgeoning population discovered the lower slopes of the South Hill.
The fashionable homes built there are a surprising mix of architectural styles. Tudor Revival homes sit next to colonials, American Foursquares and neoclassicals. The neighborhood is full of Craftsman homes as well as a collection of smaller bungalows.
Many of the first residents were businessmen and professionals, and their legacy continues today with an influx of homeowners who also hold professional positions in the community.
For example, stockbroker Harold Hensley, 45, lives in a Craftsman home on 10th Avenue originally occupied by a horse dealer and then taken over by a prominent physician, who died in 1935.
The house, which has a walk-in inglenook fireplace, was featured in a 1906 real estate article in The Spokesman-Review.
“The home is kind of a time capsule,” Hensley said.
While he admires the elegance of the older homes, he said he has found Cannon’s Addition a quiet, comfortable place to live.
The residents of an apartment house next to him are good neighbors, and a couple across the street recently restored a fourplex to its original condition as a single-family home.
“Really, the neighborhood is pretty quiet,” he said.
Hensley and other Cannon’s Addition residents say they like the proximity to downtown and the convenience of having main highways nearby.
Being an inner-city neighborhood, Cannon’s Addition was opened to apartment construction years ago. As a result, multifamily units dot the area, especially the northern blocks of the neighborhood.
Residents living in the single-family homes feared their streets would be overrun with traffic and the neighborhood would lose its family feel.
About five years ago, the city helped them write a land-use plan for a wide area of southwest Spokane.
In it, the residents sought “downzoning” to prevent construction of large apartment buildings in the future.
At least one developer fought the proposal when it went before the City Council.
Neighborhood leaders prevailed by arguing they weren’t opposed to the existing mix of apartments and single-family homes but were seeking to strengthen the stability of their neighborhood by encouraging homeownership.
Last year the council passed an ordinance limiting the number of new multifamily units that can be built.
One person who worked on downzoning was graphics designer Marcia Smith, a member of the neighborhood steering committee.
Smith and her husband, Ed, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, live in a 1909 Mission Revival home that was first occupied by a prominent dentist.
She said neighborhood leaders went door to door to gather support for the downzoning and found overwhelming support.
Along with apartments, another long-standing concern is the concentration of group homes for developmentally disabled people, alcohol rehabilitation programs, and convicts re-entering society.
Smith lives a few doors from a three group homes on West Ninth Avenue with disabled residents. She said they fit well into the neighborhood.
A bigger concern in the neighborhood is crime.
Shirley Wilson, a longtime neighborhood activist, has devoted much of her time in the past year to opening a COPS Southwest shop at Ninth and Monroe.
Wilson said graffiti is repeatedly appearing in the neighborhood, and police believe some drug houses are opening up in the area. “They will be moved out eventually,” Wilson said.
One building that’s been hit by graffiti is the former architectural office of Steve and Leslie Ronald at Fifth and Maple.
The Rennaissance Revival structure is one of the oldest commercial buildings in the neighborhood, having served over the years as a grocery, bank, laundry and funeral parlor, among other uses.
Wilson worked with the Ronalds to remove the graffiti and, in a gesture of neighborly cooperation, the Ronalds donated a professional floor plan for the new COPS shop.
Wilson said she’s believes in community-oriented policing because it is the best way to preserve the health of a neighborhood.
“I like the big houses with big yards and big trees,” she said. “It’s homey here. I expect to stay here forever.”
Officially, the federal government recognizes Cannon’s Addition as a low-income neighborhood, largely because of the number of apartment residents and pensioners.
That means the neighborhood is eligible for community development money, and for several years it has had a steering committee in place to divvy it up.
The steering committee has put money into sidewalk repair, rubbish removal, a new park on 14th Avenue, housing rehabilitation and other projects.
A recent priority is a regular newsletter to keep residents informed and encourage involvement, Krafft said.
Neighborhood leaders would like to expand the boundaries of the community development neighborhood to take in the blocks east to Lincoln Avenue. By doing that, they could use community development money to support the COPS shop, Krafft said.
That kind of leadership is also providing the nucleus for one of the first neighborhood councils in Spokane, a new effort by the mayor and City Council to promote citizen involvement in the delivery of municipal services.
Janet Davis, one of the leaders of the new neighborhood council, said she would like to see the Cannon’s Addition neighborhood council expanded to include the areas south to 29th Avenue and east to Bernard Street.
City Planning Director Charlie Dotson said city officials have found it easy to work with Davis and her neighbors on downzoning and other issues because they come to City Hall well informed.
“It’s nice to work with such a well-organized neighborhood,” he said.
Cannon’s Addition residents often say the real health of the neighborhood is the sense of continuity found in its history.
One of the leading preservationists is Joanne Moyer, the current chair of the Spokane Historic Landmarks Commission.
She and her husband, former state Sen. and longtime obstetrician John Moyer, have restored a Craftsman and Swiss home at 14th and Cedar that once belonged to Henry Rising, an early editor of the Spokane Daily Chronicle. The house is now on the local, state and national historic registers.
Mrs. Moyer described her feelings for Cannon’s Addition this way: “It’s going back to a place that once was and still is.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo Map of area
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